Museveni skips presidential debate
By DAVID KWALIMWA
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni made good his threat to skip the country’s first ever televised live presidential debate on Friday evening.
The well attended event however went on as planned at the Serena Hotel in Kampala, thanks to the availability and active participation of the seven other candidates vying for the country’s Presidency in the country’s general elections slated for February.
Those in attendance were Amama Mbabazi, Kizza Besigye, Dr Abed Bwanika, Venansius Baryamureeba, Benon Biraro, Joseph Mabirizi and Maureeen Kalya.
Museveni’s colleagues in the ruling party NRM indicated the Head of State, who is seeking to extend his three decade rule in power, opt out of the debate because he had “other engagements including political rallies that had been planned well in advance,”.
They also argued without substantiating, that “many Ugandans were unlikely to follow the debate on TV”.
All through the debate, an empty stand and seat reserved for the former guerrilla leader remained on the podium, with the moderators occasionally offering a hint that they still expected the man to turn up.
Incidentally, opposition leader Besigye turned up at the debate after a change of mind having earlier threatened not to show up if his long term political rival Museveni skipped the event.
During the debate which lasted approximately four hours, the candidates were placed on the back foot and forced to account for their past statements and actions, while selling their policies on the state of economy, country’s debt and other pressing issues.
The BBC’s Allan Kasujja and KTN’s Nancy Kacungira moderated this debate. The pair was backed by a team of researchers who ensured that issue-based and probing questions are asked the candidates.